October 27, 2020

When the well-being tank is empty

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No one intends to become emotionally depleted. It’s a scary place. I’ve been there and don’t want to ever go back.

This blog helps explain what that place is and how to help others who find themselves there.

If you feel emotionally empty take some comfort in this: “You will get better. Your tank can refill. You have a shepherd who restores souls.”

What is it like to be empty?

Emotional depletion is when there is nothing left in the tank. There is no energy for life. Just getting out of bed is hard. Facing the day and its challenges is beyond capacity.

Emotional emptiness brings unwanted guests that you are powerless to keep away. These may include numbness, avoidance, fatigue and insomnia.

Emptiness brings numbness. It’s as if the colour has drained from life’s canvas. This numbness is part of the body’s coping mechanism to minimise pain and distress. It’s effect is felt in relationships—often by avoiding people and deferring catchups/meetings, and missing scheduled events. This causes further internal difficulty because experience conflicts with your values of who and what you love.

Emptiness brings fatigue. This overwhelming tired feeling is a key to recovery, the body’s call to rest. However, often sleep is impacted by insomnia, that is having difficulty falling asleep or waking during the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Some also find their heart races—an unexplained increase in resting heart rate.
I record measures for these quantifiable indicators of well-being. An unexplained change in these areas are warning lights that indicate depletion. See blog on gauges

Emptiness brings impaired and ineffective decision making.

I experience all of these and have found through conversations and research that they are common.

If you clearly identify with the above, please get help. Do not deal with this alone. Who can help you? See your doctor. Who can help you find a path to health?

When the tank is empty, the solution is to stop and fill it. My prayer for you is that you will fill to overflow.

How can I help someone whose tank is empty?

Recognise that help is needed for restoration. Are they getting the professional help they need? There are reasons for the depletion, and it’s important to have the journey to health guided professionally. The best thing for you to do is to help the person get help.

How can I give them space to rest? Who could temporally take their responsibilities? Yes, the biggest gift you can give is rest.

How can I protect them as they get well? The best thing is perhaps to not take their sickness personally, to not attack, but defend them and affirm your love. See Adrienne’s blog, My Spouse is Going Through Burnout.

Here is the benchmark: Healthy Christian Leaders maintain emotional well-being.

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